Friday, January 26, 2001
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Posted on: Friday, January 26, 2001

Letters to the Editor

End to excise tax would help those most in need

We strongly challenge Rep. Marcus Oshiro’s Jan. 22 letter. The Republican proposal to eliminate the general excise tax on food, medical services, over-the-counter drugs and rent helps those citizens of Hawaii most in need and most immediately.

It is irresponsible to tax those who need help most: the sick, the hungry and the poor. Tax credits are not substitutes for a tax elimination. Low-income residents do not file itemized tax returns; therefore, they cannot take advantage of a tax credit. In addition, tax credits are often repealed by the Democratic administration.

Republicans want to stop the dollars from leaving the pockets of all the people every day — not give some of it back to just a few once a year at tax time. This is the best way to increase the standard of living of all of Hawaii’s families.

By the way, in response to Oshiro’s concerns regarding lost tourism dollars, we don’t see too many tourists in our local grocery stores. Contrary to the muted tones of Oshiro’s letter, this is a simple issue — not complex — and one the public has supported for 40 years.

Sam Slom
Senate Minority Leader

Fred Hemmings
Senate Minority Floor Leader

Bob Hogue
Senate Minority Policy Leader

Toll roads now would be double taxation

I couldn’t disagree more with Ted La Fore’s Jan. 20 letter about tolls on roads. Those roads have already been paid for with taxes; tolls amount to double taxation.

We already pay plenty of taxes every time we fill up (about a quarter of the price of a gallon of gas goes to taxes) and we pay through the nose every time we register our cars. We also pay for those drivers who don’t bother to buy insurance.

Taxpayers heavily subsidize bus riders; to ask riders to pay up to a third of TheBus’ operating costs isn’t an excessive or outrageous demand.

James Ko

Airport, harbor projects don’t benefit residents

What are state Department of Transportation officials thinking? Don’t they have anything better to spend our money on than big corporate welfare projects?

The DOT proposes to spend over $20 million to expand Lanai Airport. Doing so primarily benefits David Murdock’s Castle & Cooke — and some wealthy jetsetters. The federal funds involved could be used for far more important purposes at our airports.

Similarly, the DOT proposes to spend $25 million to dredge Barbers Point Harbor. The beneficiary? AES, the multinational corporation, which will save on its coal-importation costs. But none of these savings will be passed on to consumers since the rate HECO pays for electricity from AES is fixed by contract.

Harbors and airports special funds are restricted to certain projects. But that does not mean the Department of Transportation should be pursuing projects that primarily benefit large corporations.

David Kimo Frankel

Fluoridation essential for Hawaii’s children

As a practicing dentist in Nanakuli for the past 19 years, I feel compelled to respond to Glenn Carvalho’s Jan. 20 letter regarding fluoridation. To quote Carvalho: "The proven way to reduce cavities is good dental hygiene, regular visits to the dentist, brushing before going to bed and cutting down on sweets."

If this were true, then no children in Hawaii would suffer from any cavities. But unfortunately, the reality and the facts are these: In Waianae alone, over 17 percent of 5-year-olds suffer from milk bottle decay syndrome (the silver caps on the front teeth) and 83 percent of 6- to 8-year-olds have cavities. Compare that to 1.2 percent of 5-year-olds with the syndrome on the military bases here, which fluoridate the water. This is from a 1999 survey by the state Department of Health.

Every week my assistant and I see horrific cases of tooth decay, including severe infections in children as young as 3 years old. I could go on and on. All this despite intense education efforts and writing prescriptions for fluoride from the day I started.

The only proven way to dramatically reduce this needless suffering in children is to fluoridate the water. I sincerely hope our legislators do not succumb to mistaken beliefs. Get the facts and do the right thing for Hawaii’s keiki this time.

Ronald L. Young, DMD

What’s to debate? Raise age of consent

I listened to two of our legislators on the radio recently discussing the complex ramifications of raising the age of sexual consent from 14 to 16. To hear them talk, you would think that this matter was as complex as instituting universal health care or untangling the Felix mess. It is not.

If our legislators cannot pass an act stating that it is illegal for grown men to have sex with 14- and 15-year-old girls, then we need a new Legislature and we need it in a hurry.

Raymond Gagner

Domestic violence is a problem for us all

Another woman has been brutally murdered as a result of domestic violence. Cherry Ann Cachola Domingo’s only crime was loving and trusting her boyfriend. Domestic violence is increasingly prevalent in our society. It knows no boundaries such as race, income or age.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that domestic violence is a family matter. This is not true. Domestic violence is a problem for all of us. Please, talk about this murder with your husbands, boyfriends, friends, children, co-workers. You will probably be sadly amazed at how many people you know who have been affected in some way by domestic violence.

We also need to talk to our children. Domestic violence stems from the disrespect of women and the inability to manage anger. Teach your children to respect women and those who are different from them. Teach your boys not to dominate girls. Teach your children to walk away if they are angry, not lash out physically and verbally. Teach them that if their relationships don’t work out, to continue honoring the other person.

And, if a woman tells you that she is a victim of domestic violence, believe her. Help her to get in contact with a domestic violence hotline/shelter.

And please, don’t stop talking about domestic violence.

Julie Rivers

Don’t judge prostitutes without careful thought

I don’t condone prostitution, but I do recall someone I knew many years ago who was physically and somewhat mentally challenged but could function on his own. No woman would look at him, much less talk or share their experiences with him. He did have feelings and desires as well; who doesn’t?

For him, the only way he could feel the touch of a woman was by paying for it. Call it prostitution or physical therapy, it helped him cope with his handicap while the rest of society rejected him.

Walk a mile in this man’s shoes, then make your judgment.

Craig Watanabe

Public schools have more pressing needs

I respect the concept behind Gov. Ben Cayetano’s recent call for universal preschool in Hawaii, but I believe the timing of the plan is ill-advised.

Like so many things, this program should take a lower priority than other much-needed improvements to our public education system in Hawaii. Once we have addressed all of the higher-priority issues in a meaningful way — including paying a competitive teacher salary that attracts the best and brightest educators, and upgrading classrooms, text books and other materials — then I do believe the governor’s idea deserves attention.

We must get out of the habit of spending resources we don’t have on new programs, when existing programs are already suffering for lack of funding and support. The future of our children should be of paramount importance to our state government. That means providing a high-quality education at all levels. Once that’s done, we can (and should) look to expanding our reach beyond the traditional K-12 role.

Ken Armstrong

Policyholders should be given a refund

In his State of the State address, Gov. Cayetano proposed that the unused premiums from the Hurricane Relief Fund be used for scholarships. He compares the fund with Georgia’s lottery.

Although a laudable idea, the excess premiums belong to the contributing policyholders. It is not a lottery. After reinsurance, underwriting and other administrative costs, the approximately $175 million of excess premiums must be returned to the policyholders. Otherwise, it can be considered a discriminatory tax, and open the door to a class-action suit.

Tom Shimabuku

Speeding is our bane in Islands; slow down

Many of us appreciate the efforts of our city and state government transportation departments in their efforts for traffic calming when brought to their attention by the public for their particular areas.

However, the responsibility lies in each individual driver to make an active attempt to drive defensively, mainly to slow down and be alert to traffic. Speeding is a bane to us here. It’s a problem all over the Islands. We cannot emphasize it enough. Slow down!

Roy E. Shigemura

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